Lamb shank curry

Lamb shank curry

Leanne Kitchen

As Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, beef and goat are widely eaten. Lamb fits the halal profile too and, although not as common, is also consumed. Lamb shanks, with their fall-apart tenderness and sweet meaty savour, work perfectly with assertive curry flavours, even though lamb cooked in large pieces like this is not strictly traditional. Indonesian curries can be complex, using both plenty of dry spices (cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, cloves and the like) as well as ‘wet’ aromatics like lemongrass, fresh chillies, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.


Quantity Ingredient
8 frenched lamb shanks
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
8 cardamom pods, bruised
6 whole cloves
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 lemongrass stems, bruised and tied in a knot
500ml coconut milk


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon trasi (indonesian shrimp paste)
8 large red asian shallots, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
8 large red chillies, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh galangal
1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 candlenuts, chopped

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
thai basil leaves
Chilli sambal


  1. For the paste, heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium–low heat, add the coriander seeds and dry-fry, shaking the pan, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer to an electric spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Wrap the trasi in foil. Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the wrapped trasi then dry-fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until fragrant. Cool and unwrap. Transfer to a food processor with the ground coriander seeds and remaining paste ingredients and process until a smooth paste forms, adding a little water if necessary.
  3. In a wok or frying pan over medium–high heat, cook the lamb shanks in the oil, in batches, turning often, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok, add the paste and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Return the meat to the wok and add the remaining ingredients, except the coconut milk. Add 1.5 litres water or enough to just cover the shanks. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 1⁄2 hours or until the meat is tender. Add the coconut milk, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the meat is very tender.
  5. Serve garnished with the sliced chilli and basil leaves, with the chilli sambal passed separately.
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